One of the most difficult things to discuss with elderly parents is their personal hygiene. Obviously it is a slightly embarrassing subject and something they may be very private or touchy about. The best way to deal with this issue is to get a better understanding of why hygiene is such a problem for some elderly people. We have all at some stage witnessed an elderly person walking down a supermarket and the smell that lingers around them. It is very easy to dismiss it think badly off them but there are many reasons as to why they may be struggling to keep up with their bathing. 1. Weaker senses – as you age your senses such as smell and sight deteriorate so they might not realise they or their clothes smell. 2. Depression – Depression is very much a problem for the elderly and it can lead to them caring less about their bathing habits. When retirement comes along it is quite often not what they expected and they struggle to fill their time with meaningful things to do. Also as the body doesn’t function like it used to and mobility issues crop up, this can be a depressing situation for any person regardless of age. 3. Fear of falling – With age comes mobility and balance problems and the fear of falling. Many elderly people are frightened of falling on a wet floor or climbing into a bath. 4. Memories fade – Sometimes it’s just a case that they have forgotten when they last bathed or showered and with weaker senses they may not realise they are in need of a bath.
How to encourage our parents to wash?
Using a little sensitivity is needed. Try to understand your elderly parents and put yourself in their shoes. The last thing you want to do is hurt their feelings and make the problem worse. They might not be aware of any problems or they may not even care. But ask yourself if you would like to know if you were the elderly relative. Try to distinguish what is contributing to them relaxing their hygiene habits. It might be just a case of gently letting them know, perhaps say it in terms of some else you saw recently and that they smelled and explain how you don’t want them to go down that route (even if they already have without realising it). It really depends on what sort of relationship you have with your parents on how to bring up the subject. You might find they open up and admit they need a little help. Perhaps the time has come when they could do with an carer but have been too proud to admit it. That’s when it would be great if you could talk to the whole family and see if between you all you could all take it in turn to help out. Obviously if they don’t want family to help out or they just haven’t got the time, you will have to look at professional in-house carers and see what your local community offers. If the problem is down to depression then suggest they take a visit to the doctor. If they think taking pills is not for them, perhaps help them add some structure to their lives so they always have things to look forward to. They may feel lonely and trapped in their homes. Offer to spend a little time looking into organisations and activity groups which they can join. Just having a day or two in the week when they can get out might be all they need stop depression setting in. Also if they have grandchildren ask if they could spend a little of their spare time popping round for a visit. One of the biggest problems the elderly face when it comes to hygiene is that their bathroom isn’t suitable for their needs. With mobility issues and worries of slipping, taking a bath or shower might be out of the question. However with a more ‘elderly friendly’ bathroom this problem can be eradicated. This is also where we can help. We have been supplying and installing walk in showers and walk in baths to the elderly for over 25 years. We understand all of the problems the elderly and disabled face with regards to bathrooms. We have a great range of bathing aids available from anti-slip mats, grab handles and shower seats if a new bathroom is out of the question. But if they want a new bathroom installed we have over 100 models of walk in showers and a number of walk in baths. Sometimes the bath can be removed and a shower or walk in bath installed without messing up the rest of the bathroom. Many of our baths and showers are designed to fit in the place of an existing bath. As a company we have been manufacturing, supplying and installing medical bathing aids to the care industry for many years as well as our domestic elderly customers. So if your parents are looking at having their bathroom improved so they can keep their independence for longer why not get in touch and let the experts talk you through what we can offer. Either fill out the following form for installation cost information, alternatively call us on one of our three lines: For Midlands and North call 01952 457991, for the South call 0207 1019340 or Freephone 0800 612 5954.